North

Stanton hospital halts some elective surgeries after sterilization equipment malfunctions

Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife has suspended or cancelled a “small number” of elective surgeries after sterilization equipment malfunctioned at the hospital this week. No improperly sterilized equipment was used on patients, the N.W.T. health authority says.

No improperly sterilized equipment was used on patients, health authority says

Stanton Territorial Hospital noticed that its sterilization equipment was malfunctioning on Wednesday. As a result, some elective surgeries are being postponed or cancelled, the N.W.T. Health and Social Services Authority says. (Katherine Barton/CBC)

Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife has suspended or cancelled a "small number" of elective surgeries after sterilization equipment malfunctioned at the hospital this week.

The hospital started suspending those surgeries on Thursday, said David Maguire, spokesperson for the N.W.T. Health and Social Services Authority.

The health authority says the sterilization equipment at the hospital uses steam and heat to clean medical instruments and supplies. But on Wednesday, the hospital noticed the equipment was leaving moisture in the trays the items are sterilized in.

When that happens, the equipment is rejected and has to be sent back for sterilization again.

"Because of this rigorous process, we are confident that this issue was flagged immediately and that no improperly sterilized equipment was used on patients," the health authority said in its news release Friday night.

Stanton hospital is now conserving its supply of sterile equipment for emergency surgeries. The health authority is also looking into having Stanton's equipment sterilized elsewhere in the N.W.T.

The hospital is still looking into what caused the problem, and trying to solve the issue, according to the news release.

Some elective surgeries that are taking place "immediately" will still go ahead if equipment and supplies are available, the health authority says. Patients who travelled to Yellowknife for surgeries are being prioritized.

"Urgent but non-emergency surgical procedures may be deferred to other facilities within the NWT or to Alberta if they arise," the news release states. "Patient notification for cancellations is ongoing."

Anyone impacted by the issue will be rescheduled "as high-priority," according to the health authority.

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